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Bogut returns, looks pretty good. Warriors just got better.

Jan 29, 2013, 12:27 PM EDT

Golden State had been getting pretty good production from their big men this season — David Lee is an All-Star averaging 19.6 points and 10.8 rebonds a game, Carl Landry has come off the bench to the tune of 12 points a game on 52.8 percent shooting, plus 6.7 boards a contest.

But they still lacked a traditional big and that had some questioning what would happen to them in the playoffs. Golden State had struggled in recent games to stop second chance points.

Everyone, meet Andrew Bogut.

The Australian big man returned from off-season ankle surgery Monday night and showed some of the deft touch and interior defense that had him quietly as a player GMs coveted before his severe elbow then ankle injuries. He had 12 points, 8 rebounds and four blocks in near 24 minutes of action. He quickly fit in to a good Warriors offense and things looked smooth, on defense he provided a real presence in the paint and on the boards.

Here is what he said afterward, via CSNBayArea.com.

“I thanked the coaches before the game for being patient with this; it’s been a frustrating time for me,” Bogut said after the game. “It’s been hell for two months. The fans out there, it’s been tough on everybody and the last thing I wanted to do was be sitting out with an injury. I feel like it’s almost there. I’m back out on the floor and I’m excited.”

If he is back and integrated (and if Stephen Curry can stay healthy) the Warriors are going to be a tough out in the playoffs. They could face someone like the Clippers, Grizzlies or Nuggets in the first round and whoever gets them is going to have a real chore to advance.

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